7 summer reads, recommended by top TED speakers

5 TED Talks to Improve Your Leadership Skills

If you've got a vacation planned soon (and you should, because it could get you a raise), you may be looking for something to read en route to your destination. Instead of settling for the in-flight magazine, why not pick up a book favorited by one of the world's most innovative minds?

TED compiled an epic list of 40 summer reads recommended by their speakers. No matter what your interest -- fiction or nonfiction, short and sweet or long and lengthy, recent New York Times bestseller or a timeless classic -- there's something on the list that will pique your interest.

Take a gander at the entire list on the TED blog, or check out a selected few below from entrepreneurs, designers, creatives and tech thought leaders.

7 books you should read, according to TED speakers
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7 books you should read, according to TED speakers

1. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

As Co-founder and chief product officer of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia says anyone who thinks deeply about improving the culture of their organization should read this book. "Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull takes readers inside how the animation factory makes their sausage," he explains. "This book is one of the most intimate looks behind the scenes of a company's culture, and the impact it has on the people, business, and product."

Gebbia's TED Talk: "How Airbnb Designs for Trust

Photo credit: Amazon.com 

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Astro Teller, whose official title for Google is captain of moonshots, leads a team at X that is trying to solve big problems through experimental projects, including Google's balloon-powered internet. His pick? Ready Player One, which is what he describes as a mix between a much-loved children's book and a popular science fiction tale. "It's best summed up by saying that if you enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory andThe Matrix, and you want to see one story that delivers on both of those kinds of fun at the same time, this is the summer read for you!" Teller says.

Teller's TED Talk: "The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure"

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3. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Linda Liukas teaches kids -- and girls, especially -- the magic that is computer code. She's written and illustrated a book herself, Hello Ruby, that teaches programming fundamentals through stories and kid-friendly activities. But she couldn't exactly recommend her own book. Instead, the Helsinki-based Liukas suggests you check outThe Summer Book. "This book is my quiet, curious, and simple favorite," she says. ""The quintessential celebration of summer in Scandinavia -- 22 vignettes of a girl and a grandmother on an island."

Liukas' TED Talk: "A delightful way to teach kids about computers"

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4. inGenius by Tina Seelig

Disability rights lawyer and design thinker Elise Roy helps organizations learn how to solve previously unsolvable problems through design. She recommends a book that shows how everyone is creative, no matter what their job or role. "Through examples from her own work, others in the design thinking field and history, Tina Seelig provides a wealth of tools and techniques to help everyone uncover their creative potential."

Seelig's TED Talk: "When we design for disability, we all benefit"

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5. Supplement to the Italian Dictionary by Bruno Munari

It's unsurprising that notable design critic Alice Rawsthorn recommends you get inspired by design in your reading this summer. Her pick is written by a fellow celebrity of design. "The brilliant mid-20th-century Italian designer and design theorist Bruno Munari showed how to express all of those things without speaking through hand gestures, facial expressions, and attitudes of the body in his 1963Supplement to the Italian Dictionary," she says. "His book is an inspired and engaging analysis not only of improvisational design but of the Italian psyche.

Rawsthorn's TED Talk: "Pirates, nurses and other rebel designers"

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6. The Vital Question by Nick Lane

Blaise Agüera y Arcas works on machine learning (i.e. augmented reality, mapping, wearable computing, and natural user interfaces) at Google. He recommends The Vital Question, a book that reimagines our planet's evolutionary history, because it "takes a fresh and insight-generating perspective on old and profound questions."

Arcas's TED Talk: "How computers are learning to be creative"

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7. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Shivani Siroya, the CEO and founder of mobile finance app InVenture, recommends a book she believes will open your eyes and increase your empathy: Between the World and Me. "This is a powerful read that evokes action in us all and provides a well-researched historical account of race relations in the U.S. Coates' writing is excellent, and he describes how understanding starts with communication -- not assumption."

Siroya's TED Talk: "A smart loan for people with no credit history (yet)"

Photo credit: Amazon.com 


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